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Space elevator technology gets the green light
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ONTARIO, Canada Making your way to outer space may soon be as simple as taking an hour-long elevator ride.

While it sounds like the stuff of science fiction, Canada-based Thoth Technology has secured a patent for the so-called space elevator, an invention that could make space exploration cheaper and more accessible than ever before, according to CNBC News.

Once completed, the 12.4-mile, free-standing tower would launch astronauts and tourists alike to a space plane at the top of the elevator.

From the top of the tower, space planes would launch in a single stage to orbit, returning to the top of the tower for refueling and reflight, inventor Brendan Quine, co-founder of Thoth Technology, told New York Daily News.

Heres how the estimated $5 billion elevator would work: Gas pressurized cells would keep the inflated tower upright. The elevator could potentially transport up to 10 tons of cargo including space travelers at a time, negating the need for a traditional rocket launch.

Once build if built, and if it works this would seem to offer easier, more routine access to space, Graham Warwick, managing editor at Aviation Week, told CNBC. For spacecraft and for people.

Quine told CNBC the concept and design took eight years to develop.

Other inflated tower designs have been explored previously, but they typically use buttress designs or support cables that we believe (are) impractical, he said.

Quine estimates the elevator will be 30 percent cheaper than rocket launches which come at a price tag of up to $250 million, CNBC reports.

Part of the limitation on space travel is the cost of getting to space, Quine told the Guardian. The tower could change space travel because professional rockets are very energy intensive and not very environmentally friendly.

Thoth will focus on successfully constructing a .9-mile demonstration elevator, which will become the worlds largest structure, Quine said. If that works, engineers can start work on the 12.4-mile main event.

Quine estimates that if all goes to plan, the space elevator could be completed within five years.